Monday, January 27, 2014

Meet Amanda from Marry Mint

I'd like to introduce you all to my new friend Amanda from Marry Mint. Since we started chatting a couple of weeks ago, I've become smitten with her bubbly personality, adorable pregnancy photos, and most importantly, the courage she's demonstrated since being diagnosed with melanoma at age 19. Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story.

Hey everyone! I’m so thrilled and honored to be here today :)

Goodness, putting my “story” into words is much harder than I thought it would be. I’m FIVE YEARS cancer free and I only recently found the courage to begin sharing my experiences with melanoma. So, I’m sure you can tell from my photo that my skin is quite fair. As a little kid my parents were always careful and kept my skin covered either by clothing or sunblock. Were they perfect about it? Probably not. But they were certainly cautious. Then came those awful teenage years… Am I the only one who wishes I could get a do over? For more reasons than one. Ew. Just ew to being a teen. Anyway, I still wasn’t a sun worshiper but was definitely self-conscious about my pasty white mole covered skin. I knew enough to know that I was someone who was at a higher risk for skin cancer but of course “it won’t happen to me.” Was I a sun worshiper? No. Frequent tanner? No. Did I always make good choices about sun safety? Most definitely not.

The most common question I am asked is: “how did you know?” The answer is, I didn’t. Even my dermatologist didn’t. I had a new “spot” on my shoulder that was just weird. It was new, kind of blue-ish in color and got on my nerves because it was exactly where my seatbelt rested in the car. So new spot= go see your dermatologist, right? So I did.

At my initial visit with him we decided to leave it there and keep an eye on it. It didn’t remotely resemble a melanoma. About a month later I still had an unsettling feeling about it so scheduled an appointment to have it removed. Just a couple of days later my dermatologist called saying it didn’t look good. Pathology showed it could be one of three different things, one of those of course being melanoma. The next step was to have the area excised AND complete the sentinel node biopsy while the pathology was being sent off for multiple opinions. Long story short, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma with spitzoid deviation stage 3b.

{The ‘spitzoid deviation’ is what made my particular disease complicated. It is a lesion that is most common in very young children and it’s behavior really isn’t known. SO we had to just treat it as aggressively as possible even though it is believed to be less invasive than your garden-variety melanomas.}

My treatment consisted of a modified radical neck dissections followed by the standard year of interferon, one month of induction and eleven months of maintenance. All while having regular scans and check ups with my dermatologist.

On my blog I try and open up about life after cancer. My anxieties, my family, different support systems, lessons, plus million and one photos of my sweet daughter. My hope is to show the world that life can and does go own following something as horrific as cancer. It isn’t perfect and it isn’t always pretty, but it can be damn good! :)

Find me online


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